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India begins largest blood pressure screening

Close to 25 lakh people in India are expected to get screened for high blood pressure in one month

health Updated: May 01, 2017 16:57 IST
high blood pressure

High blood pressure is a silent killer(Shutterstock)

New Delhi: The world’s largest hypertension screening begins in India today, with 25 lakh people being screened in May for high blood pressure, a condition that kills an estimated 2.6 lakh of its people each year.

As part of the global May Measurement Month (MMM) 2017, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), along with Public Health Foundation of India (PFHI), Centre for Chronic Disease Control, Army Medical Corps, Indian Medical Association etc. launched the month-long screening campaign on Monday.

Hypertension is a major risk factor for developing coronary artery disease that can lead to life threatening episodes like heart attack and stroke.

“Nearly 100 countries have signed up for the screening, including India,” says Professor Neil Poulter, president, International Society for Hypertension (ISH).

The global initiative that aims to screen 25 million people world over during this month will be done under the aegis of ISH and the World Hypertension League (WHL).

More than 500 sites have been identified across India, including All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Armed Forces Medical College and private physicians to screen people between the age group of 18 and 65 years who have not had their blood pressure measured in last one year.

Hypertension is one of the most common lifestyle ‘silent killer’ diseases of modern times, with every third person suffering from it. International data suggests that fewer than half of those with hypertension are aware of their condition. Many of those who die of hypertension never knew they had it.

“A vast majority of people don’t have any symptoms. Early detection of high blood pressure is a key to controlling it and its complications both at an individual and population level,” says professor D Prabhakaran, vice president- research and policy, PHFI.

The data from each country will be analysed along with the results of millions of others worldwide, and would be used to form a blue-print action plan to tackle hypertension globally.

Hypertension cannot be cured but it can be controlled with lifestyle modifications and medicines. “Simple measures such as salt intake reduction, healthy eating, avoiding alcohol and increasing physical activity help a great deal in controlling high blood pressure,” says Prof. Poulter.